The beginnings of a great quest may be humble. One seeks inner fulfillment or an answer to a burning question. There is never any expectation the quest may be difficult or life threatening.
Without warning or preparation, one is thrust into the strange, the unknown, with terrible consequences that do not leave failure as an option.
“Yet even when all hope for a happy and safe outcome has been lost, there is still an inner belief, a hidden power, one that drives intelligent beings to achieve impossible goals, oblivious to considerations of their own personal safety.
“From even the most humble beginnings, the adventure of a lifetime may begin. It may not have been anticipated, but emerges in response to that quest.
“One finds within oneself the power to conquer adversity, to face obstacles, each greater than the last, until these challenges become eagerly anticipated, and in fact a joy.
“In other words, one becomes a leader.”
Volume Two, The Memoirs of Emperor Velzanar
Late afternoon sunshine heated the early October day to surprising warmth, as Ray made a final survey of his modest home. He had moved there soon after his accident while on a mission in the Middle East, and had purchased it with what had been left of his allotments after his honorable discharge. Millions of dollars later, it still needed a coat of paint, the roof leaked and the locks were a joke. But he had always been too distracted, too hurt, too everything to care about changing or fixing anything.
Out of idle curiosity, he made one last check of his bank account and received a resounding shock. I’m building up a hell of a retirement fund.
Now that money would be put to good use. Manny Gonzales had been named executor of his estate, and if their plan worked, he would convert Ray’s possessions to gold bars that would be placed in a secured storage facility somewhere in Iowa. He remembered from his lessons on the future that this area would be relatively unaffected by the next world war.
After performing a secure data wipe of the files on his computer to further confuse his NSA pursuers, Ray packed a small overnight bag with his twenty-third century garments, his wristview, his diary, and Flash drives containing the computer code for all his games and important files. Hoisting it over his shoulder, he said one last goodbye to what had served as his home, locked it up as if the metal tumblers would actually stop anyone from getting in, and headed for his vintage red Mustang. Soon he was heading north on the highway to his rendezvous with Gonzales in Marin County and hopefully, his destiny.
As he merged with traffic, Ray checked for the tail he knew would be there. After trying to frighten him with a private visit, if they had any suspicions about his activities and travel plans, they would send a car to trail him and attempt to unnerve him into making an incriminating mistake that would allow them to arrest him.
He didn’t have to wait long. Sure enough, within an hour, he spied a large, black car in his rear-view mirror. He would bet his untold millions they had been tracking him by satellite all along.
Ray led them on a leisurely tour of the more scenic areas, stopping here and there to enjoy the view before pulling in to a roadside truck stop just north of San Francisco, off Highway 101, and going inside for a cup of coffee, his bored pursuers parked only a few spaces behind his.
They can’t be that stupid to be so obvious. Another car must be following me...If his plan was to succeed, he had to lose both cars and somehow keep out of range of the NSA’s tracking satellites.<